Wednesday, September 16, 2009

IFB : Set Yourself Free

Brand : IFB
Company : IFB Industries
Agency : Saatchi & Saatchi

Brand Analysis Count : 417

IFB is a major brand in the premium home appliances market. The brand is famous for its washing machine range especially the front loading type. I would say that IFB was a pioneer in popularising the front- loading washing machines into the Indian market.
In the Rs 20,000 crore Indian consumer durable market, the washing machines contribute for Rs 2300 crore.(source). At one point of time IFB was the second largest player in the Fully Automatic category.

IFB is a Kolkata based company which had its origin in 1974. The company was earlier known as Indian Fine Blanks. The company was specialised in manufacturing Fine Blanks and supplied to many industrial multi-nationals. The company later ventured into consumer durables under a joint venture with the German major Bosch in 1990.

The technology collaboration with Bosch gave IFB a headstart. The company was able to give consumers products with exceptional quality. IFB soon became the leader in the premium washing machines in the country. But in 1997, Bosch severed its ties with IFB.

Despite the termination of the JV, IFB was able to hold on its own. The brand was able to maintain its image in the Indian market. It had a share of 23% in the washing machine market in 2002.

How ever, IFB was caught in a serious financial trouble during 2005 where it was referred to BIFR. Later the firm came out of the financial trouble with a debt restructuring exercise.

IFB still holds the premiumness in the mind of the consumers despite maintaining a low key . The brand's share of voice is abysmally low . But fortunately the brand maintains a strong aspirational pull in the mind of the consumers.

IFB is a brand which is priced exorbitantly high. Its washing machines are priced more than 50% compared to the competitors. But the question is whether IFB can maintain the premiumness without adequately spending on brand promotion. Almost all the major global brands are competing for space in the Indian market. Technological differentiation is virtually impossible now since all brands are bringing their latest products to India.

In such a scenario, IFB needs to reinforce its brand equity. The brand is perceived to be a technologically superior but that perception can fade if the brand become complacent .